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Open access

Bernadette M Trojanowski, Heba H Salem, Heike Neubauer, Eric Simon, Martin Wagner, Rajkumar Dorajoo, Bernhard O Boehm, Leticia Labriola, Thomas Wirth and Bernd Baumann

Maturity-onset diabetes of the young (MODY) is a group of monogenetic forms of diabetes mellitus caused by mutations in genes regulating β-cell development and function. MODY represents a heterogeneous group of non-insulin-dependent diabetes arising in childhood or adult life. Interestingly, clinical heterogeneity in MODY patients like variable disease onset and severity is observed even among individual family members sharing the same mutation, an issue that is not well understood. As high blood glucose levels are a well-known factor promoting β-cell stress and ultimately leading to cell death, we asked whether additional β-cell stress might account for the occurrence of disease heterogeneity in mice carrying a MODY4 mutation. In order to challenge β-cells, we established a MODY4 animal model based on Pdx1 (pancreatic and duodenal homeobox 1) haploinsufficiency, which allows conditional modulation of cell stress by genetic inhibition of the stress-responsive IKK/NF-κB signalling pathway. While Pdx1+/− mice were found glucose intolerant without progressing to diabetes, additional challenge of β-cell function by IKK/NF-κB inhibition promoted rapid diabetes development showing hyperglycaemia, hypoinsulinemia and loss of β-cell mass. Disease pathogenesis was characterized by deregulation of genes controlling β-cell homeostasis and function. Importantly, restoration of normal IKK/NF-κB signalling reverted the diabetic phenotype including normalization of glycaemia and β-cell mass. Our findings implicate that the avoidance of additional β-cell stress can delay a detrimental disease progression in MODY4 diabetes. Remarkably, an already present diabetic phenotype can be reversed when β-cell stress is normalized.

Open access

Tingting Yang, Min He, Hailiang Zhang, Paula Q Barrett and Changlong Hu

Aldosterone, which plays a key role in the regulation of blood pressure, is produced by zona glomerulosa (ZG) cells of the adrenal cortex. Exaggerated overproduction of aldosterone from ZG cells causes primary hyperaldosteronism. In ZG cells, calcium entry through voltage-gated calcium channels plays a central role in the regulation of aldosterone secretion. Previous studies in animal adrenals and human adrenal adrenocortical cell lines suggest that the T-type but not the L-type calcium channel activity drives aldosterone production. However, recent clinical studies show that somatic mutations in L-type calcium channels are the second most prevalent cause of aldosterone-producing adenoma. Our objective was to define the roles of T and L-type calcium channels in regulating aldosterone secretion from human adrenals. We find that human adrenal ZG cells mainly express T-type CaV3.2/3.3 and L-type CaV1.2/1.3 calcium channels. TTA-P2, a specific inhibitor of T-type calcium channel subtypes, reduced basal aldosterone secretion from acutely prepared slices of human adrenals. Surprisingly, nifedipine, the prototypic inhibitor of L-type calcium channels, also decreased basal aldosterone secretion, suggesting that L-type calcium channels are active under basal conditions. In addition, TTA-P2 or nifedipine also inhibited aldosterone secretion stimulated by angiotensin II- or elevations in extracellular K+. Remarkably, blockade of either L- or T-type calcium channels inhibits basal and stimulated aldosterone production to a similar extent. Low concentrations of TTA-P2 and nifedipine showed additive inhibitory effect on aldosterone secretion. We conclude that T- and L-type calcium channels play equally important roles in controlling aldosterone production from human adrenals.

Open access

Md Nurul Islam, Yuichiro Mita, Keisuke Maruyama, Ryota Tanida, Weidong Zhang, Hideyuki Sakoda and Masamitsu Nakazato

Ghrelin, a stomach-derived peptide, promotes feeding and growth hormone (GH) secretion. A recent study identified liver-expressed antimicrobial peptide 2 (LEAP2) as an endogenous inhibitor of ghrelin-induced GH secretion, but the effect of LEAP2 in the brain remained unknown. In this study, we showed that intracerebroventricular (i.c.v.) administration of LEAP2 to rats suppressed central ghrelin functions including Fos expression in the hypothalamic nuclei, promotion of food intake, blood glucose elevation, and body temperature reduction. LEAP2 did not inhibit neuropeptide Y (NPY)-induced food intake or des-acyl ghrelin-induced reduction in body temperature, indicating that the inhibitory effects of LEAP2 were specific for GHSR. Plasma LEAP2 levels varied according to feeding status and seemed to be dependent on the hepatic Leap2 expression. Furthermore, ghrelin suppressed the expression of hepatic Leap2 via AMPK activation. Together, these results reveal that LEAP2 inhibits central ghrelin functions and crosstalk between liver and stomach.

Open access

Alyce M Martin, Emily W Sun and Damien J Keating

The homoeostatic regulation of metabolism is highly complex and involves multiple inputs from both the nervous and endocrine systems. The gut is the largest endocrine organ in our body and synthesises and secretes over 20 different hormones from enteroendocrine cells that are dispersed throughout the gut epithelium. These hormones include GLP-1, PYY, GIP, serotonin, and CCK, each of which play pivotal roles in maintaining energy balance and glucose homeostasis. Some are now the basis of several clinically used glucose-lowering and weight loss therapies. The environment in which these enteroendocrine cells exist is also complex, as they are exposed to numerous physiological inputs including ingested nutrients, circulating factors and metabolites produced from neighbouring gut microbiome. In this review, we examine the diverse means by which gut-derived hormones carry out their metabolic functions through their interactions with different metabolically important organs including the liver, pancreas, adipose tissue and brain. Furthermore, we discuss how nutrients and microbial metabolites affect gut hormone secretion and the mechanisms underlying these interactions.

Open access

Hiroharu Mifune, Yuji Tajiri, Yusuke Sakai, Yukie Kawahara, Kento Hara, Takahiro Sato, Yoshihiro Nishi, Akinori Nishi, Ryouichi Mitsuzono, Tatsuyuki Kakuma and Masayasu Kojima

We previously reported that voluntary exercise contributed to the amelioration of abnormal feeding behavior with a concomitant restoration of ghrelin production in a rat model of obesity, suggesting a possible relationship between exercise and appetite-regulating hormones. Ghrelin is known to be involved in the brain reward circuits via dopamine neurons related to motivational properties. We investigated the relevance of ghrelin as an initiator of voluntary exercise as well as feeding behavior. The plasma ghrelin concentration fluctuates throughout the day with its peak at the beginning of the dark period in the wild-type (WT) mice with voluntary exercise. Although predominant increases in wheel running activity were observed accordant to the peak of plasma ghrelin concentration in the WT mice, those were severely attenuated in the ghrelin-knockout (GKO) mice under either ad libitum or time-restricted feeding. A single injection of ghrelin receptor agonist brought about and reproduced a marked enhancement of wheel running activity, in contrast to no effect by the continuous administration of the same drug. Brain dopamine levels (DAs) were enhanced after food consumption in the WT mice under voluntary exercise. Although the acceleration of DAs were apparently blunted in the GKO mice, they were dramatically revived after the administration of ghrelin receptor agonist, suggesting the relevance of ghrelin in the reward circuit under voluntary exercise. These findings emphasize that the surge of ghrelin plays a crucial role in the formation of motivation for the initiation of voluntary exercise possibly related to the central dopamine system.

Open access

Ioannis Simitsidellis, Arantza Esnal-Zuffiaure, Olympia Kelepouri, Elisabeth O’Flaherty, Douglas A Gibson and Philippa T K Saunders

Selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs) have been proposed as therapeutics for women suffering from breast cancer, muscle wasting or urinary incontinence. The androgen receptor (AR) is expressed in the uterus but the impact of SARMs on the function of this organ is unknown. We used a mouse model to compare the impact of SARMs (GTx-007/Andarine®, GTx-024/Enobosarm®), Danazol (a synthetic androstane steroid) and dihydrotestosterone (DHT) on tissue architecture, cell proliferation and gene expression. Ovariectomised mice were treated daily for 7 days with compound or vehicle control (VC). Uterine morphometric characteristics were quantified using high-throughput image analysis (StrataQuest; TissueGnostics), protein and gene expression were evaluated by immunohistochemistry and RT-qPCR, respectively. Treatment with GTx-024, Danazol or DHT induced significant increases in body weight, uterine weight and the surface area of the endometrial stromal and epithelial compartments compared to VC. Treatment with GTx-007 had no impact on these parameters. GTx-024, Danazol and DHT all significantly increased the percentage of Ki67-positive cells in the stroma, but only GTx-024 had an impact on epithelial cell proliferation. GTx-007 significantly increased uterine expression of Wnt4 and Wnt7a, whereas GTx-024 and Danazol decreased their expression. In summary, the impact of GTx-024 and Danazol on uterine cells mirrored that of DHT, whereas GTx-007 had minimal impact on the tested parameters. This study has identified endpoints that have revealed differences in the effects of SARMs on uterine tissue and provides a template for preclinical studies comparing the impact of compounds targeting the AR on endometrial function.

Open access

Huali Yu, Ye Guo, Yang Zhao, Feng Zhou, Kehan Zhao, Mayuqing Li, Junxiong Wen, Zixuan He, Xiaojuan Zhu and Xiaoxiao He

Glucocorticoids (GCs) are a class of steroid hormones that regulate numerous physiological events in the human body. Clinically, glucocorticoids are used for anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive actions via binding with glucocorticoid receptors (GRs). Emerging evidence has also indicated that inappropriate GC and GR levels are detrimental for brain development and eventually lead to severe neurological diseases. However, the roles of GC/GR signaling in brain development are not fully understood. Here, we showed that stable GR expression levels were critical for brain development, because both GR knockdown and overexpression severely impaired neuronal migration. Further studies showed that the multipolar–bipolar transition and leading process development were interrupted in GR-knockdown and GR-overexpressing neurons. To elucidate the underlying mechanism, we screened the protein levels of downstream molecules and identified RhoA as a factor negatively regulated by the GR. Restoration of the RhoA protein level partially rescued the neuronal migration defects in the GR-knockdown and GR-overexpressing neurons, indicating that RhoA played a major role in GR-mediated neuronal migration. These data suggest that an appropriate level of GC/GR signaling is essential for precise control of neuronal migration.

Open access

E J Agnew, A Garcia-Burgos, R V Richardson, H Manos, A J W Thomson, K Sooy, G Just, N Z M Homer, C M Moran, P J Brunton, G A Gray and K E Chapman

Endogenous glucocorticoid action is important in the structural and functional maturation of the fetal heart. In fetal mice, although glucocorticoid concentrations are extremely low before E14.5, glucocorticoid receptor (GR) is expressed in the heart from E10.5. To investigate whether activation of cardiac GR prior to E14.5 induces precocious fetal heart maturation, we administered dexamethasone in the drinking water of pregnant dams from E12.5 to E15.5. To test the direct effects of glucocorticoids upon the cardiovascular system we used SMGRKO mice, with Sm22-Cre-mediated disruption of GR in cardiomyocytes and vascular smooth muscle. Contrary to expectations, echocardiography showed no advancement of functional maturation of the fetal heart. Moreover, litter size was decreased 2 days following cessation of antenatal glucocorticoid exposure, irrespective of fetal genotype. The myocardial performance index and E/A wave ratio, markers of fetal heart maturation, were not significantly affected by dexamethasone treatment in either genotype. Dexamethasone treatment transiently decreased the myocardial deceleration index (MDI; a marker of diastolic function), in control fetuses at E15.5, with recovery by E17.5, 2 days after cessation of treatment. MDI was lower in SMGRKO than in control fetuses and was unaffected by dexamethasone. The transient decrease in MDI was associated with repression of cardiac GR in control fetuses following dexamethasone treatment. Measurement of glucocorticoid levels in fetal tissue and hypothalamic corticotropin-releasing hormone (Crh) mRNA levels suggest complex and differential effects of dexamethasone treatment upon the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis between genotypes. These data suggest potentially detrimental and direct effects of antenatal glucocorticoid treatment upon fetal heart function.

Open access

A Edlund, M Barghouth, M Hühn, M Abels, J S E Esguerra, I G Mollet, E Svedin, A Wendt, E Renström, E Zhang, N Wierup, B J Scholte, M Flodström-Tullberg and L Eliasson

Cystic fibrosis-related diabetes (CFRD) is a common complication for patients with cystic fibrosis (CF), a disease caused by mutations in the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR). The cause of CFRD is unclear, but a commonly observed reduction in first-phase insulin secretion suggests defects at the beta cell level. Here we aimed to examine alpha and beta cell function in the Cftr tm1 EUR/F508del mouse model (C57BL/6J), which carries the most common human mutation in CFTR, the F508del mutation. CFTR expression, beta cell mass, insulin granule distribution, hormone secretion and single cell capacitance changes were evaluated using islets (or beta cells) from F508del mice and age-matched wild type (WT) mice aged 7–10 weeks. Granular pH was measured with DND-189 fluorescence. Serum glucose, insulin and glucagon levels were measured in vivo, and glucose tolerance was assessed using IPGTT. We show increased secretion of proinsulin and concomitant reduced secretion of C-peptide in islets from F508del mice compared to WT mice. Exocytosis and number of docked granules was reduced. We confirmed reduced granular pH by CFTR stimulation. We detected decreased pancreatic beta cell area, but unchanged beta cell number. Moreover, the F508del mutation caused failure to suppress glucagon secretion leading to hyperglucagonemia. In conclusion, F508del mice have beta cell defects resulting in (1) reduced number of docked insulin granules and reduced exocytosis and (2) potential defective proinsulin cleavage and secretion of immature insulin. These observations provide insight into the functional role of CFTR in pancreatic islets and contribute to increased understanding of the pathogenesis of CFRD.

Open access

Thomas Nicholson, Chris Church, Kostas Tsintzas, Robert Jones, Leigh Breen, Edward T Davis, David J Baker and Simon W Jones

Adipokines have emerged as central mediators of insulin sensitivity and metabolism, in part due to the known association of obesity with metabolic syndrome disorders such as type 2 diabetes. Recent studies in rodents have identified the novel adipokine vaspin as playing a protective role in inflammatory metabolic diseases by functioning as a promoter of insulin sensitivity during metabolic stress. However, at present the skeletal muscle and adipose tissue expression of vaspin in humans is poorly characterised. Furthermore, the functional role of vaspin in skeletal muscle insulin sensitivity has not been studied. Since skeletal muscle is the major tissue for insulin-stimulated glucose uptake, understanding the functional role of vaspin in human muscle insulin signalling is critical in determining its role in glucose homeostasis. The objective of this study was to profile the skeletal muscle and subcutaneous adipose tissue expression of vaspin in humans of varying adiposity, and to determine the functional role of vaspin in mediating insulin signalling and glucose uptake in human skeletal muscle. Our data shows that vaspin is secreted from both human subcutaneous adipose tissue and skeletal muscle, and is more highly expressed in obese older individuals compared to lean older individuals. Furthermore, we demonstrate that vaspin induces activation of the PI3K/AKT axis, independent of insulin receptor activation, promotes GLUT4 expression and translocation and sensitises older obese human skeletal muscle to insulin-mediated glucose uptake.